MONDO VIDEO! is the Best Kept Secret When it Comes to Epic Basement Video Stores, and You Have to See it to Believe It! [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]
By Josh Schafer
People miss video stores so much, they’re making them in their basements. That’s not to say classic video stores are dead and gone. They’re certainly not. As endlessly evidenced here at LUNCHMEAT, and in an insightful (and important) article from Kate Hagen, there are still plenty of brick and mortar video rental destinations fighting the good fight. But there is a phenomenon happening here.
From the earliest incarnation we can recall with Bradley Creanzo’s Bradco Video (as seen in Adjust Your Tracking), to Champion Video, to Nostalgia Video, to The Video Bunker, which was featured on Jimmy Kimmel, these personal passion projects paying tribute to the ultimate in video rental nostalgia are seemingly breeding.
And now, North Atlanta, GA resident and LUNCHMEAT #10 contributing writer Anthony Sant’Anselmo is ready to press play with the absolutely epic MONDO VIDEO! We sat down with Anthony to explore how he’s taken his vision of the most radical Mom & Pop video store imaginable and manifested it into a rewind-inclined reality. Sit back, grab a VHSnack, and get all the gory details along with an exclusive look at MONDO VIDEO!: The best kept secret in the world of basement video stores, that’s not such a VHSecret anymore.
LUNCHMEAT: Tell us a little about yourself. How have you connected to video stores / VHS? You have some other creative endeavors that led you to the creation of MONDO VIDEO?
Anthony Sant’Anselmo: As far back as I can remember, movies were it for me. When I was five-years old, I wanted to be Steven Spielberg and Stephen King; nothing’s really changed in that department... Growing up, we had a few Mom & Pop Video Shops in our town and one in particular, my friends and I would ride our bikes to called, “The Movie Mart” in the San Fernando Valley. This was the kind of store that proudly displayed their Horror section - and as a kid who went to a strict religious school and also had a mom that heavily-censored what I watched, (i.e., recorded movies between two VCR’s and edited-out the language, sex, violence and whatever other content she felt was not good for a little dude’s eyes - then let me watch her bootleg!) I started having a legit heavy-lean towards Horror.
I recall the first time seeing [the big box version of] Lunch Meat and could not believe they got away with the cover they used – it was probably the first real graphic image I saw and every time I went back, I gravitated towards that video. Side note: as a ten-year-old, I thought Moutaintop Motel Massacre was the coolest title to ever exist – but since it was tricky for me to rent at the time, I wrote a 36-page story of the same title of what I thought the movie might be like. That really cemented my love of writing.
What was the inspiration to create MONDO VIDEO? Were you familiar with the other basement video stores? Have you connected with any others doing the basement video store thing?
How much time do you have? The inspiration for the title was born out of titles I gravitated towards as a kid. Shockumentaries like Mondo Cane did a real number on me – and John Waters’, Mondo Trasho, etc. – these were titles that I just thought were the coolest. But it took the actor from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Troy Slaten (who played Jerry Steiner!) to remind me that MONDO VIDEO! was the fictional video store Parker Lewis’ parents ran – and that was a show that I never missed in the early ‘90s. (BTW, if you’ve never seen Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, see it; they were super fun and shot EXTREMELY WELL.) So, I added a rendition of the THOR Helmet that Maia Brewton’s character wore in Adventures in Babysitting to the MONDO VIDEO! logo. Fun Fact: Maia also played Parker Lewis’ kid sister, Shelly Lewis - like an Easter Egg shout-out!
Okay, back to reality: We had moved from Los Angeles (where basements don’t really exist) to the East Coast (where they totally exist) so I knew I didn’t want to squander this opportunity, artistically. I had some of the rooms figured out, theater, gym, office – pretty standard stuff, but was having trouble deciding on the theme of the basement as I wanted something to really inspire me daily and at a heavy nostalgic level – beyond my usual horror posters and evil puppet props.
Then it all came together: I have a friend in Atlanta, Mike Malloy (Writer/Director of Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the ‘70s’) who was doing supplemental material for a Blu-ray release of Umberto Lenzi’s Syndicate Sadists (1975) – and he asked if I would play a video store clerk in the bonus material. I happily obliged and when I showed up to set, I found he had built and replicated a very simple (but effective) interior two wall section of a “video store” for the shoot, that happened to be in the living room of a rundown house. Some shelves, some tapes and a counter. When I saw it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my basement. I thought it was an incredibly unique idea to actually have something like that in someone’s house permanently – and when I looked into it online, I discovered CINEMASSACRE had built one in their basement (and a killer one, at that!) Still, I desired to create my own Mom & Pop Video Shop since they helped fuel my love of movies – before the big chains came in and homogenized the scene. I just had no idea as I went (with my attempt to throw in everything I thought was fun) I’d land on a seedy, back alley, Ska-infused ‘80s Video Store with secret doorways and a porno section – but that’s what came out of the ‘ol paint brush, so...
What was the process of creating the MONDO VIDEO!? You’re using the tapes from your own collection?
This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever consistently, physically done – and I used to work for a steam-cleaning/fire and water damage restoration company. At this point, the project is going on almost 4 years and I’ve put in thousands of late-night hours on this experiment. I treated the process as if I was building a set. Starting out with several sketch designs, I pared it down to what made most sense, logistically. The whole basement was originally blank and had blonde carpet and tan walls – in which I initially painted all grey, then ripped-out the carpet and installed the black and white checkered tiles – and to anyone who does flooring, my hat is off to you. It’s some grueling work and at several points I kinda thought I developed Tourette’s Syndrome, as I’ve never cursed so much during the process of custom cutting and laying the tiles correctly.
Once I did the main room flooring, through sheer luck was able to procure wire racks from Lee’s Discount Store in Douglasville, GA., as they were closing down. I already had a good chunk of VHS stored away, but started hardcore hunting high and low for tapes to collect and curate. Once I finished the main room (after promising myself I would never do flooring again) I started creeping the video store into other rooms, little-by-little, until it took over the whole basement. There’s a reason it’s often referred to in our house as, “One More Thing Video’ – because I’m never done. It really is never ending, but that’s also the fun of it.
Are you planning to rent these videos out? Or is it more of a tribute to the glory days of video rental to capture an aesthetic essence.
It’s a tribute to the glory days, for sure, and an online celebratory hub - but if you’re a friend and hanging out, you’re definitely going home with some tapes – and if you don’t have a way to watch them, you’re going home with a VCR.
You have some pretty specific VHSections in the store…
Yeah, the Horror Section is the largest – as it should be, but within every genre I try to add sub-genres so each section is a fun experience for the “customer”. As with any good Mom & Pop Shops, an Adult’s Only Section is a must have - so I’ve got some of the cheesiest ‘70s and ‘80s porn, softcore and erotica.
Why do you think people are getting nostalgic for that video store experience? How do you think MONDO VIDEO connects with that?
Since we’re living in a streaming world, I think some people are longing for that time capsule where movies were physical, as you felt more connected to it – and being able to peruse around a video store for as long as one desires is missed; those that grew up in the era and those that maybe wish they did, certainly feel that way. Due to the heavy rotation of ‘80s and ‘90s based streaming shows and social media nostalgia groups, the reach is getting much wide(r). MONDO VIDEO! is a Pop Culture Video Store shrine – a love letter to that era.
You recently invited MICHAEL MYERZ to shoot a music video in your space. How was that experience? How did you hook up with MYERZ?
Myerz is a pro and a pal. He came in with Director, Evan Brewer (@evanbrews) and looked around the shop and knew what they wanted to capture. It was a super-easy going and fun shoot and am “VHStoked” for its release. I learned of Michael Myerz through VHSurfer: Meet the VHS Collector at 3AM one night on YouTube and thought he was hilarious. He was rockin’ a Phantom of the Mall Shirt (always a good sign) and had a bunch of South Park tapes in the background (another good sign) – and mentioned he was in Atlanta, so I hit him up.
Speaking of South Park, tell us a little bit about what you do on the show.
I’ve been with SP for 18 years now as a Lip Sync Artist – animating any character, critter or Canadian that has dialog. It’s an incredible place to work and I’m still super-thrilled to be with the show all these years later.
What do you think is the most essential thing you want people to know about MONDO VIDEO! and its mission?
It started as me wanting to build my dream throwback video store – and am stoked I achieved what I set-out to do; but along the way, it ultimately became much more than me proving something to myself. First and foremost, my kids will know what a video store was like. That alone is worth all the (literal) blood, sweat (and maybe some) tears that this build-out caused, but there was a whole’lotta joy during the process, too. Now that it’s “complete” (remember: One More Thing Video!), the mission for MONDO VIDEO! is simple: to bring total radness into people’s lives and celebrate this killer era together.
What’s next for you and MONDO VIDEO!?
There’s a handful of things cookin’: I was hired to write a reboot of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes– which was completed and turned in and then 2020 as we know it hit, so we’ll see what comes of it now that the smoke has cleared in the production world. I’ve got a couple of Horror novels currently in the works and now that the video store has been birthed, it’s time to start creating some fun content I’ve been kicking around during its construction. I’ve had a MONDO VIDEO! Instagram account up for a few years now and it’s been a REAL CHORE shooting every photo with a blurred background and tight frame to hide the developing vid store – so I’m super-excited to let that camera breathe from here on out!
ED NOTE: Check out MONDO VIDEO! on Instagram @mondo_video
Anything else you want all the Tapeheads hangin’ loose in LUNCHMEAT Land to know?
Shout-out to my friend, Jeff McCall (and his family) of Woodstock, GA., who’s a Master Carpenter that helped me when I needed the help.
Also, follow the crew:
Kevin Penley: @pizzaplanetvideorentals
Michael Myerz: @mrmyerz
Jason Graham: @slime_video_atl
Sean Beard: World’s Largest Beavis and Butthead Collection: @beavisnbuttheadcollector
Andy Bernet: Lifelong friend, Killer artist ‘n illustrator: @doctorbernet
Thanks, LUNCHMEAT! See you VHSoon!